Appreciative Inquiry and App Development
I am so delighted and filled with gratitude when my clients, or my prospective clients, spontaneously say to me in a somewhat surprised tone:
“You have really helped me think this through.”
“I hadn’t seen it quite like that before.”
“I’m now seeing possibilities I hadn’t considered.”
“You’ve opened me up to a new way of thinking.”
I’m delighted because that kind of feedback tells me our conversation has helped the client progress her thinking. Together, we’ve created a developmental conversation. The conversation has constructed something new for both of us. She has some insights about her situation and me, and I have new insights about my situation and her. And, I’m grateful because she was open to the inquiry. She was receptive. She wanted to find a new way. She was willing to explore and discover. Our generative conversation created the new possibilities.
On the surface, Polymash is an app development agency. But scratch a little below the surface and you’ll find that what we really do is develop people, and their ideas, and ultimately develop innovation behaviors. We know that through our inquiry-based approach to our client engagements, we help them express that which they want to express. We begin conversations with our goal to guide them so that eventually clients are able to express what they are wanting to achieve in the most positive way; they express what delights them; what they aspire to; and what brings life to their purpose in life and business. In our app development, we tap into the highest potential for people and for product. Our experience has been that people dig deep to contribute to something larger than themselves, something that allows their voice and creativity to rise to the top. That’s how innovations happen. That’s how great design and user experience (UX) emerge organically.
When we come to a project with the mindset of people development over product development, we are focused on the human experience over the technological solution. Our mindset, when we engage with clients, is that we want them to realize that through engagement with their apps, they can positively impact their user-base. Our Wild Dolphins iPad app and FilmOneFest iPad and smartphone apps are two examples where the inquiry-based approach resulted in not only producing highly attractive apps with great entertainment and utility, but also developed entire client teams involved in gathering all the content for the apps. Teams can evolve to new heights in their relationships and productivity. And, apps have the potential to create innovation behaviors among their customers – the users.
In the case of Wild Dolphins, we had members of the organization saying that being part of the content creation for the app was the best experience in their career to date. They were amazed at how everyone just wanted to jump in and contribute. They said productivity increased and leadership emerged where they had not seen it before. New, innovation behaviors that have come from the app users have been greater awareness of what endangers the species, and what new, innovation behaviors they can adopt to help protect wild dolphins. The Wild Dolphins‘ client wanted to put their mission into the world and be a force for good by bringing awareness to the positive human behaviors that will help protect dolphins in the wild.
FilmOneFest II app was also community-wide effort, where we engaged with various stakeholders whose content and ideas would be included in the app – filmmakers, film critics, sponsors, volunteers, business people. The articulated goal was to be able to show the one-minute films selected for viewing at the one-day film festival to help promote the filmmakers, the event and the town. What emerged from our inquiry was a whole new innovative approach to help promote the event and attract new filmmakers for future film festivals and an entirely innovative way of having filmmakers participate in all future events.
Greatest Energy and Excitements
Our approach to our work is grounded in a special kind of inquiry: Appreciative Inquiry. By “Inquiry,” we mean asking carefully crafted questions that to seek to expand the thinking and enlarge the conversation and its potential. By “Appreciative,” we mean inquiring through a lens that seeks to appreciate or “increase in value” whatever the topic of the inquiry is. So applying the Appreciative Inquiry framework, we engage with our clients through a lens that looks for what is to be valued, successful and appreciated. Energy and engagement result. Creativity is unleashed and innovations pop up from unexpected sources.
What if, instead of looking for “the pain points and problems” in clients’ situations, we inquired into areas of “greatest energy and excitements.” What if we stopped thinking and acting from a position of “what we lack and our weaknesses” and instead began to focus on “past successes, current best assets and individual and collective strengths?” When you inquire from that perspective, shift happens!
To learn more and apply Appreciative Inquiry, download our iPad app Embracing Change which leads users through change. To learn more about the principles of Appreciative Inquiry as a method of inquiry that results in stories of personal and professional triumph, download our smartphone and iPad app Appreciative Inquiry – an Introduction.